It's one thing for me to take on the Paleo Lifestyle, given my food allergies and my health needs. It's another thing entirely to share Paleo with my entire family, and yet that is exactly what we are going to do. Starting this week, our family is on a 30 day Paleo experiment. We are looking forward to seeing where it leads us!
Yes, this is absolutely a big step - although for our family it's not as big of a change as it might be for most. But still, there are kids involved and change in diet can be difficult for kids.
So why are we doing it?
As most of you know, in April of 2011 we figured out that my littlest, Tanith, had a problem with dairy just like her mommy. Our allergist confirmed it, and we immediately pulled dairy from her diet. (For people in our family who needed absolute proof, we did verify that with allergy testing this April.) That one simple step has made a huge difference in her health and behavior...but I've still felt there was more we could do with her. For one thing, she's a notorious sugar bug, and that has always bothered me. Mommy's intuition says we just aren't quite there yet.
Then there is my Gillian. While she never had any obvious signs of a food problem, she has had pretty severe headache problems since kindergarten. Let's be real....small children should NOT have severe headache problems. We've been trying to pinpoint a food trigger for that - with no real success - for the last six months or so.
Then two things happened this summer that clued me in to the fact that my daughter is even more sensitive to food than I had thought. The first was a trip home to my parents' farm, during which she ate practically nothing that was not either grain or dairy based. The second was camp just a couple of weeks ago. A few days of industrialized, processed camp food triggered the exact same reaction that the food on the farm had....which was that my sunny, energetic, happy girl because an exhausted, whiny mess who felt sick and was miserable. The night it happened at camp I looked at her and realized she was feeling the exact same way I feel when I am loaded with my allergens...that she was, in fact, experiencing the same yucky fatigue that had driven me to the allergist's office in the first place. In both situations her diet was radically different than it typically was at home, and it was obvious that what she was eating was hurting her.
Then I flashed back to kindergarten and first grade - where she was a complete peach at school, but would come home and have raging temper tantrums at night. At the time we were told she felt safe with us because we were good parents, and that she was most likely just working out of her system any frustrations that were built because she was so good all day. That and she was just that tired and was just that strong-willed of a child. The problems had seemed to go away for the most part starting in second grade.....which is when I got my food allergy diagnosis and grains, sugars and dairy disappeared from most of our family diet at home.
A whole bunch of things fell into place that night, and confirmed our belief that our decision to go Paleo was the right one for our family.
You are what you eat, and what you eat can either heal or harm.
Now I know that I'm not going to get 100% compliance. My husband, for example, has no problem with dairy whatsoever and will probably continue to eat lunches out with his friends. (He's also in-tune enough to know how foods make him feel, and so understands when he's going to have to pay the price for something that's not quite so great for him.) I'm also a realist, and know that my kids are kids and are going to want kid-friendly food. Occasionally there will be slip-ups. However, the good news is that there are tons of great recipes out there to make 'paleo-friendly' versions of a lot of things they would otherwise miss.
For our experiment we are following the 30 day menu plan in Sarah Fergaso's Everyday Paleo. To supplement that, I have also bought a copy of the FABULOUS book, Eat Like A Dinosaur. I checked that one out from the library, and when the girls had tagged almost every recipe with post-its I knew we had to have a copy for ourselves. Both books have really great recommendations about how to make the Paleo lifestyle and food work for the entire family....advice we are really taking to heart. (Tanith ate an entire bowl of kale chips because she made them herself....amazing!)
So we shall see what happens over the next month. I'm really looking forward to discovering how my girls respond. Who knows? Perhaps this change will become permanent!